Best AirPlay speakers 2024: wireless streaming for Apple devices tried and tested

KEF LSX II speakers in blue finish on desk
(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

As one of the quickest and easiest ways to stream music and create multi-room setups if you own an iPhone or iPad (or both), Apple AirPlay has been a game changer. The increasingly popular wireless speaker standard is used in Apple's own HomePods alongside third-party products from the likes of Sonos and Naim. 

The choice is excellent, but AirPlay can be a double-edged sword. For a start, having AirPlay functionality doesn't guarantee the speaker will actually sound its very best or be compatible with all devices. Further, you need to be careful which speaker you choose to add to an existing system, as mispairing speakers can negatively impact how they sound and work together.. Hence we always recommend pairing speakers in the same family, like a Sonos Era 100 with a Sonos Era 300, or two Apple HomePod 2s, if you want optimal results for a multi-room system.

To help you find the best AirPlay 2 speaker for your specific needs and budget, we’ve created this guide detailing the top options for sound, design and features. Every AirPlay wireless speaker on this list has been tested by our team of reviewers, both in our listening rooms and home environments, and we've made sure to check not only how well AirPlay functions but also how each product functions as a speaker in its own right.

You can find out more about our testing process or journey onwards to see the best models from our list below.

Recent updates

21st June: Added JBL Authentics 300 and Authentics 500 to the "Also Consider" section.

The quick list

Harry McKerrell headshot
Harry McKerrell

I'm a staff writer who has listened to and reviewed dozens of products, from AirPlay speakers to portable Bluetooth speakers to wireless headphones, during my time at What Hi-Fi?. I have first-hand experience with the speakers tested below, which boast ample features beyond AirPlay and deliver some of the best performances from a wireless speaker. Overall, the best AirPlay speakers should be a breeze to set up with your iPhone or iPad, be compatible with any music streaming service and deliver great sound quality without any stuttering or dropouts in connection. If you want to know which AirPlay speaker is right for you, I've got you covered.

Best AirPlay speaker overall

What Hi-Fi? Awards winner. The best Apple-focused smart speaker on the market right now.


Power: N/A
Streaming : Wi-fi, AirPlay 2
Features : Siri, Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos, stereo pairing, multi-room
Connections : N/A
Dimensions (hwd): 17 x 14 x 14cm
Weight : 2.3kg
Finishes : 2 (black, white)

Reasons to buy

Natural, solid and energetic sound
Spacious and three-dimensional, particularly with Atmos
Brilliantly well made

Reasons to avoid

Mainly suitable for dedicated Apple users
No Siri control for Spotify, Tidal etc.
Some rivals have more direct sound

Simply put, the HomePod 2 is the best AirPlay speaker made by Apple, and one of the smartest you’ll find at this price.

If you love Apple tech and want a great-sounding smart speaker with room-filling audio and the considerable boon of AirPlay 2, the HomePod 2 is the best candidate that we’ve tested. Apple's Award-winner is the larger option in the Californian brand's current line-up, sitting above the smaller HomePod Mini in terms of weight and size. 

It's also one of the finest Apple products around today, with the second-gen model's main draw coming from its ability to scan and optimise its audio settings for the room and position it's in on the fly, something which worked superbly during our tests. The HomePod 2 brings in Apple's S7 chipset for more comprehensive and high-performance spatial audio, better room-sensing algorithms than the Mini and overall smoother levels of performance, all leading to what is unquestionably a class-leading smart speaker.

We were also hugely impressed by the built-in temperature and humidity sensors which can be used to create custom automations in your smart home, and it would take a whole dedicated page (or our current review) to really dig down into how much the HomePod 2 can do. Trust us, though, when we say it sounds great, looks sharp and gives you all the Apple-centric features, including AirPlay, that you'd expect at this price.

Read our full Apple HomePod 2 review

Best budget AirPlay speaker

What Hi-Fi? Awards winner. The perfect companion if you love Apple but don't want to spend a fortune.


Power : 20W
Streaming : Wi-fi, AirPlay 2
Features: Siri, Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos, stereo pairing, multi-room
Connections: N/A
Dimensions (hwd): 8.4 x 9.8 x 9.8cm
Weight : 345g
Finishes : 5 (space grey, blue, yellow, white, orange)

Reasons to buy

Refined, pleasing sound
Substantial smart skills and AirPlay integration
Outstanding music discovery

Reasons to avoid

Lacks a full control app
Tied heavily to Apple 

As an affordable, compact and hugely effective way of getting AirPlay 2, plus quite a lot else into your life, the HomePod Mini is our Award-winning place to start, especially if the standard HomePod 2 happens to be a tad big for your living space.

As it's a HomePod, the Mini will integrate seamlessly into your Apple ecosystem, and at just 8.4cm tall and 9.8cm wide, it's easy to fit anywhere into your current domestic setup. Siri works exceptionally well, and a quick utterance of the phrase “Hey Siri, play something I'll like” will kickstart Apple's special curation algorithm which assesses your current listening habits and then plays something it thinks you'll like - and rather brilliant it is, too.

AirPlay 2 is obviously baked in, and there's no question that the HomePod Mini has been built around the Apple way of doing things. Most voice commands for music-related requests work exclusively with Apple Music, meaning you're not so well served if you happen to be a big Spotify fan. 

The Mini goes loud, though, comfortably outperforming its size and price, quite frankly embarrassing its direct competition with the sophistication and maturity of its sound. If your budget can't stretch to the bigger HomePod 2 but you're keen on an Apple speaker with AirPlay 2, the Mini is your best bet.

Read our full Apple HomePod Mini review 

Best AirPlay speaker for spatial audio

What Hi-Fi? Awards winner. Arguably the best AirPlay speaker on this list, especially if you crave spatial audio.


Power: N/A
Streaming: Wi-fi, AirPlay 2, Bluetooth 5.0 (SBC, AAC)
Features : Spatial audio with Dolby Atmos, stereo pairing, TruePlay tuning, Spotify Connect, adjustable EQ, multi-room
Connections: USB-C line-in (separate adapters required)
Dimensions (hwd): 16 x 26 x 18.5cm
Weight : 4.47kg
Finishes : 2 (white, black)

Reasons to buy

Immense scale of sound
Detailed sound with punchy, deep bass
Great with spatial audio tracks
Wide streaming support

Reasons to avoid

Adapter for wired connection costs extra
Unique design isn't for everything

One of our favourite speakers from 2023 is officially AirPlay ready, although if that's the only reason you're buying the Era 300, you might find it to be a bit of a waste of money. 

If you're familiar with everything that the Era 300 can do, however, it's very much worth the investment. Yes, £449 / $449 / AU$749 is a hefty investment, but the Era 300 has plenty going for it to excuse that substantial outlay. Thanks to its unusual, “cinched hourglass” shape, for instance, Sonos' smart speaker does spatial audio brilliantly, and, alongside AirPlay 2, 24-bit/48kHz hi-res music support from Qobuz and Amazon Music services are also included.

It's that spatial audio and broad soundscape that really convinced us during testing, though. Throw whatever you like at the Era 300, chances are it has it covered, filling our testing rooms with cohesive, spacious sound without a hint of a struggle. Big choral numbers feel big and immersive thanks to spatial audio, but the Era 300 excels seemingly with all genres and across every taste from hip-hop to classic rock, soundtracks to folk. 

Yes, it’s considerably more expensive than a HomePod 2, but the Era 300’s great sound and AirPlay compatibility for iOS devices mean it’s comfortably earned its place on this list.

Read our full Sonos Era 300 review

Best mid-price AirPlay speaker

An awesome AirPlay speaker at a more attractive price than the Era 300.


Power : N/A
Streaming : Wi-fi, AirPlay 2, Bluetooth 5.0
Features: Stereo pairing, TruePlay tuning, Spotify Connect, adjustable EQ, multi-room
Connections: USB-C line-in (separate adapter required)
Dimensions (hwd): 18.25 x 12 x 13.05cm
Weight : 2.02kg
Finishes : 2 (white, black)

Reasons to buy

Large, open sound
Great detail
Vast catalogue of streaming features
Excellent, simple-to-use app

Reasons to avoid

Adapter for wired connection costs extra
Rival Apple HomePod 2 is more natural with voices

Dropping down from the rather premium price tag of the Sonos Era 300 is the Era 100, a fantastic alternative that comes with a veritable host of features, including AirPlay 2, Alexa voice control, stereo pairing and Trueplay tuning, to keep even the most demanding of customers happy. Be in no doubt, the Era 100 keeps up with its bigger, more expensive brother in delivering a host of streaming playback features alongside another excellent-sounding speaker.

Yes, it's smaller and more affordable, but the Era 100 still pumps out a big, open sound, a lovely sense of rhythmic drive and all the detail and precision you could hope for at this price point. The app is excellent to use, while Apple Music and AirPlay 2 support will allow it to excel with your chosen Apple device. This is still a £249 / $249 / AU£$399 speaker, don't forget, so it's still a proper piece of kit that you're getting. 

If we're being picky, we'd say that the HomePod 2 is intuitively a little more natural when reproducing the human voice. Still, at a slightly cheaper price and with all the Apple compatibility you need, it’s very hard to go wrong with Sonos’ hugely talented Era 100.

Read our full Sonos Era 100 review

Best versatile AirPlay speaker

What Hi-Fi? Awards winner. The Mu-so Qb is open, expressive and hugely versatile.


Power : 300W
Streaming : Wi-fi, Apple AirPlay 2, Bluetooth 5.0, Chromecast
Features: Spotify Connect, Tidal, Roon Ready
Connections : 3.5mm aux input, USB input, digital optical input, ethernet
Dimensions (hwd): 21 x 22 x 21cm
Weight : 5.6kg
Finishes : 1 main (black), 3 grille options (Olive, Terracotta, Peacock)

Reasons to buy

Open, detailed and expressive
Loads of streaming options
More compact than the larger Mu-so 2

Reasons to avoid

Not a budget option 
Getting on a bit age-wise

While the Apple HomePod Mini comes with all the company's signature technologies, if you want top-quality sound from an AirPlay 2 speaker – and have the budget for it – the Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation is well worth a look. After all this time, it's still a thing that we're rather smitten by. 

Again, if you're buying the Mu-so Qb purely for AirPlay 2, that's probably a mistake. If you know just how great this chunky monolith looks and sounds, though, it makes perfect sense, and whether it's sporting its olive, terracotta or peacock grille alongside that deep black finish, the Naim truly looks the part. 

Belying its box-like dimensions with a punchy bass alongside sparkling and rich tones across frequencies, the Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation scooped up multiple 2022 What Hi-Fi? Awards for the best home wireless speaker over £500/ $500. If you can grab a discount then it's well, well worth a listen. 

Read our full Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation review

Best AirPlay stereo speaker system

The LSX II LT offer all of the performance of the LSX II without any extraneous add-ons.


Power: 200W
Streaming : Wi-fi, AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Bluetooth 5.0
Features : Spotify, Tidal, Amazon Music, Qobuz,
Connections : HDMI ARC, USB-C, optical
Dimensions (hwd): 24 x 15.5 x 18cm
Weight : 6.8kg total
Finishes : 3 (graphite grey, stone white, sage green)

Reasons to buy

Cohesive, balanced presentation
Robust, nicely-shaped bass
Great value for most users
Compact, desktop size

Reasons to avoid

No aux input
Less luxurious finish options

If you're looking for a do-it-all speaker system with AirPlay built-in, the KEF LSX II LT need to be on your shopping list. Conceived as a stripped-back, slightly feature-light (hence "LT" version of the standard LSX II speaker system, the LT has already become a firm favourite of ours as it gives us so much of what we loved with the original without sacrificing a single shred of sound. 

In terms of value for money, this AirPlay-enabled stereo speaker streaming system is the real deal, pulling out everything that (most) consumers don't need and keeping all of the essentials intact. Roon Ready-ness is gone, as is the humble Aux chord (rest in peace), and you won't get the same number of luxurious finishes as you would with the standard LSX II.  Still, with AirPlay 2, wi-fi, Chromecast and Bluetooth, as well as a wide spectrum of streaming services like Amazon Music, Deezer, Qobuz, Spotify and Tidal, you're hardly starved for features. And don't worry, physical inputs like the HDMI ARC and USB-C connections for hooking up to a TV and laptop respectively remain intact. 

Better still, unlike the classic LSX II for which both speaker units need to be plugged into the mains, the LT only needs a single lead hooked up to the primary unit, with the other speaker sharing the power courtesy of a 3m USB-C interspeaker cable. Handy if you don't have many plug sockets free...  

Sonically, there's not a hint of sacrifice. That robustness of the bass, the same strength and force of each instrument, the adeptness at organisation and cohesion, not to mention lovely layers of detail and nuance, they're all there and they all make for a satisfying, well-balanced listen. Result. 

 Read our full KEF LSX II LT review

Best premium AirPlay speaker

Super-sounding, awesome-looking and feature-packed - this truly is a premium AirPlay speaker.


Power : 450W
Streaming : Wi-fi, AirPlay 2, Bluetooth, Chromecast
Features : Multi-room, UPnP, Spotify, Tidal, Internet radio
Connections : 3.5mm stereo input, optical input, HDMI ARC input, ethernet
Dimensions (hwd): 12 x 62 x 26cm
Weight : 11.2kg
Finishes : 1 main (black), 3 grille options (olive, terracotta, peacock)

Reasons to buy

Sensational detail and dynamics
Convincing bass
Loads of wireless and streaming features

Reasons to avoid

That expensive price tag
Needs large space to accommodate 

The excellent Mu-so Qb 2 above remains a great choice for anyone looking for extensive streaming and high-quality sound. You can take things to new heights with the sublime-looking Naim Mu-so 2 though, essentially the elongated, full-fat brother of the Qb which continues to impress despite having been around for around five or so years.

Such is the breadth of choice when it comes to AirPlay speakers, you can spend under £100 or end up forking out well over £1000. The Mu-so 2's price tag will put off anyone looking to save money without sacrifice, but there's no issue with a product being costly if it has the chops to back it up. And back it up the Mu-so 2 certainly does.

Bass is plentiful and high quality, and while that design won't be for everyone, if you like it, you'll fall for it in a big way. To us, it's a thing to behold, looking for all the world like a premium wireless speaker, matched only by the rich, confident, detailed and rhythmically adept presentation of its supreme sound.

The sleek unit's extensive feature set includes all manner of wireless streaming technologies, including AirPlay 2 and Chromecast, while music streaming platforms like Tidal and Spotify are also supported, as is high-res audio up to 24-bit/88kHz. If you want to plug the Naim into your TV, a versatile HDMI ARC input gets you hooked up to give your cinema system a boost. 

Read our full Naim Mu-so 2 review

Best portable AirPlay speaker

A talented, compact, portable AirPlay speaker with excellent sound quality.


Power : 25W
Streaming: Wi-fi, Bluetooth 4.0, AirPlay
Features: Multi-room, Spotify Connect
Connections: Ethernet, 3.5 mm stereo
Dimensions (hwd): 11.5 x 21.5 x 13.5cm
Weight : 2.1kg
Finishes : 3 (black, white, grey)

Reasons to buy

Impressive timing and sense of rhythm 
Clean, attractive build
Tight, textured bass

Reasons to avoid

App could be slicker
Rather primitive Bluetooth 4.0

To be a little reductive, the Audio Pro Addon C3 is essentially the wi-fi-enabled, multi-room version of the Addon T3 speaker, with those rather pleasing minimalist looks, textured surfaces and embossed leather carry handle all adding a bit of Swedish class to proceedings. 

Decent wireless tech adds a whole new dimension to your listening, though. The Addon C3 supports the major music streaming services, including TidalSpotifyQobuz and Apple Music, and you can control your playback (and a lot more) via the Audio Pro Control app. It’s not quite the seamless experience offered by Sonos’ all-conquering equivalent, but it's not bad, either.

Set-up is a painless process whether you choose a Bluetooth or wi-fi connection, and yes, AirPlay is of course on board. Setting up a multi-room system is simple and pain-free, with the app searching for other Audio Pro speakers in the vicinity on the same network and then letting you drag and drop them into the groupings you desire. 

Sonically, the C3 remains a belter of a speaker. The sonic delivery is mature, refined and textured, with a spacious, detail-heavy delivery bolstered by some impressive rhythmic chops. The only thing we could really find to gripe about was a slightly clunky control app, but that's hardly the most fatal of fatal flaws.

All in all, an excellent AirPlay speaker that, given its advancing years, can often be picked up for an almighty discount,

Read our full Audio Pro Addon C3 review

Also Consider

Audio Pro Addon C10 MkII: An excellent, five-star alternative to the Addon C3 above, the Addon C10 MkII is a former Award-winner that we still think is one of the best speakers of its type. Often discounted and never lacking fun or features, it's a smashing piece of kit. 

JBL Authentics 300: The Authentics range is a fun line from JBL, with both the hefty 300 and the larger 500 models (below) ditching general portability and ruggedness in favour of substantial style and lots of sonic welly. Hugely powerful and offering dual voice assistants, wi-fi streaming, Bluetooth, Alexa Multiroom and AirPlay 2, the 300 does the lot. 

JBL Authentics 500: Think that bigger means better? If portability doesn't concern you, the chunky, funky Authentics 500 still packs many of the same features as the 300 unit (including AirPlay, of course), but with spatial audio capabilities and a fuller, bolder sound. 

Sonos Roam: Sonos has jumped into bed with AirPlay in a big way, so much so that even its smallest speakers have the protocol locked, loaded and ready to go. Despite being ostensibly a portable Bluetooth model, you can use a wi-fi connection to hook the Roam up via AirPlay 2. There's a Roam 2 out as well, though we haven't reviewed that yet, which also gives access to AirPlay 2. 

How to choose the best AirPlay speaker

If you're contemplating an AirPlay speaker specifically, the strong likelihood is you're using an Apple iPhone or iPad to control and stream your music, but just make sure that all iOS devices are up to date and compatible with your new AirPlay speaker.

Size and aesthetics vary a lot here, so you'll need to make sure the speaker fits into the space you've allocated for them. Some, like the HomePod Mini or Sonos Era 100, are small enough to be flexibly placed anywhere in the house, while bigger models like the large Naim Mu-so will need their own dedicated space on a rack.

That aside, you need to know the perks of opting for a speaker with AirPlay baked in. Firstly, you'll need a wi-fi connection to use AirPlay, so make sure you have a stable connection to connect the speaker to. Thanks to AirPlay 2, multi-room playback is on the menu – and it is not limited to Apple-branded products, as the fantastic new Sonos Era speakers and various third-party speakers show. There's also the promise of improved audio buffering, higher-quality audio than Bluetooth streaming, and multiple control access across iOS devices to acknowledge (a useful touch for multi-room streaming).

If you're not quite ready to stick to just one streaming technology, you will be pleased to note that most AirPlay speakers (that aren't the HomePods) also offer Bluetooth and other streaming features like Chromecast built-in, Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect, so you won't miss out on any functionality. This means that those with Android devices can still use AirPlay speakers, just by using a different streaming method.

Price is also a key factor. There are budget options as well as very premium models – with extra additional features – so it's crucial to decide on which main features are important to you, and to stick within your budget.

How we test AirPlay speakers

The What Hi-Fi? team tests hundreds of products every year – and that includes AirPlay speakers. We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London and Reading where our team of expert reviewers handles every step of the independent testing processes. This gives us complete control, ensuring consistency and impartiality over every review we publish. 

Besides outright sound quality, we also test and evaluate every aspect of an AirPlay speaker's audio performance, including battery life, connection quality, ease of use, and versatility. We have iPads and iPhones as part of our testing facilities, so we can check how seamless it is to use the iOS ecosystem as well as a speakers' own apps when testing AirPlay speakers. We use a variety of music genres and streaming sources when testing the sound quality, and ensure the speaker has been given plenty of running in time so we know it's performing at its best. It's very similar to the process involved in testing wireless speakers.

All AirPlay speakers are tested and reviewed in the context of their value on a performance-per-dollar basis, and as part of our testing procedure, all products are compared against similarly-priced class leaders to see how they perform and help us figure out an appropriate rating. Our review philosophy doesn't change based on price or brand reputation.

All review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than an individual reviewer, again helping to ensure neutrality and consistency.

Finally, we choose the culmination of our efforts – the best products from all of our in-depth reviews – to feature in our Best Buys, which is where you are now. If you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended above, or on any other Best Buy page, you can be assured you're getting a What Hi-Fi? approved product.


Is AirPlay better than Bluetooth?

This depends on what you mean by "better": AirPlay tends to deliver better sound quality than Bluetooth, but Bluetooth is more widely available and can be used with most compatible sources.

AirPlay is a wireless protocol that needs a wi-fi connection to work, and allows for higher bandwidth and more data to be streamed, compared to the narrower, lower-quality Bluetooth streaming method. In terms of audio quality, we often find that songs streamed over AirPlay deliver a finer sonic performance with more detail and more dynamic scope, compared when using Bluetooth. AirPlay doesn't have a restricted range between source and speaker the way Bluetooth does; it has a wider range thanks to wi-fi but is dependent on the strength and stability of your home network.

However, AirPlay can be restrictive as it can only be used with Apple iPhones or iPads as a source, whereas Bluetooth is more widely supported by all devices (Android, Windows etc), doesn't require a wi-fi connection, and is more versatile and easier to use by all.

Which devices support AirPlay?

AirPlay is Apple's own wireless streaming protocol meaning that, naturally, all Apple-made products support it. The HomePods above, for instance, naturally have AirPlay capabilities, as they're both designed and built by the Cupertino-based corporation.

That said, not every item on the list above is Apple-made, meaning it isn't just Apple products that can enjoy the benefits of AirPlay. Multiple audio brands have licensing agreements to use AirPlay thanks to its higher audio quality potential, ease of use and consumer popularity.

Recent updates

  • April 2024: Added FAQ and Also Consider sections to help with buying decisions and frequently asked questions.
  • November 2023: What Hi-Fi? Award winners labelled after the 2023 Awards Best Buys and Product of the Year announcements.


Everything you need to know about AirPlay 2, how it works and which products support it

Want voice control? Check out our pick of the best smart speakers

And here the best cheaper speaker deals

15 of the best podcasts for music lovers

Harry McKerrell
Staff writer

Harry McKerrell is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi?. During his time at the publication, he has written countless news stories alongside features, advice and reviews of products ranging from floorstanding speakers and music streamers to over-ear headphones, wireless earbuds and portable DACs. He has covered launches from hi-fi and consumer tech brands, and major industry events including IFA, High End Munich and, of course, the Bristol Hi-Fi Show. When not at work he can be found playing hockey, practising the piano or trying to pet strangers' dogs.